Wow. It's been a long time (close to two months!) since I've blogged. A lot has been happening and I don't think I'll try to replay all of it. Just the highlights or whatever comes out of my fingers now that I've actually sat down and started a blog post.
First and foremost, my health continues to improve. The SGN-35 I'm getting does have some side effects so I'm not recovering as quickly as I probably would were I not in the study. It knocks down my blood counts a bit - my crit was 40 in December and was 33 last week, 38 today when I got another dose and will probably oscillate between 32-40 for the next few months until I complete the study in October. Since low normal is 40, a crit of 32 is definitely low enough to negatively effect athletic performance. It's frustrating to only have 3 of the 5 athletic gears I used to have but despite that I'm managing to do most of the things I like physically and enjoy doing them. My hair is growing back, I'm getting more muscle mass in my legs, my gunky lungs are clearing out so all good signs. It's been 15 months on the journey and I'd really like to get past this illness but I'm trying to stay disciplined and just take each day as it comes and not get too impatient, but it's hard.
Emotional state. Pretty good, I would say. I had a chance to participate in a men's support group put together by the medical group I used for my stem cell transplant. There were 7 other guys in the group, all of whom had had at least one stem cell transplant. It was a good experience - sharing laughs, anger, fears, etc. with another group of guys that have gone through similar experiences. Highly recommended if you find yourself in a situation where you're facing a serious illness. By nature we're pretty social creatures and I found it helped to talk through things and get some camaraderie. Not many people in the world can appreciate what it's like to get such a strong dose of chemo and a stem cell transplant so participating in the group was definitely a healing experience. The only sobering part of that experience was recognizing that the odds are pretty good that at least one if not two of the eight of us probably won't be around in 5 years. Ugh.
Another group I've joined is a local bike group in Denver that's got ties to Livestrong. It's a great group of about 30 people that like to bike and are also interested in raising awareness of cancer and promoting the message of Livestrong. Check out the Denver Cycling Team Benefiting Livestrong Facebook page for more info on the group.
All the family is good - various kiddies are transitioning from academics to jobs, moving into new jobs, etc. We'll get some time with both Ross and Greg in the next month which will be great - we haven't seen much of those guys in the last year and with our head so focused on my illness it's going to be really refreshing to get some quality time with Susan's two boys. Looking forward to that big time.
Work is... Work. We've had some ups and downs in the last year which I've managed to keep in perspective given my health concerns. Over the last few months we've made some changes and I think things are going in a good direction. I enjoy being back in the mixer and seeing all my work colleagues every day. Of course, in the perfect world I'd have enough money that I wouldn't have to actually think about making money as a priority when choosing what kind of work I do. But that's still a ways off for me. I did my first business trip in 18 months or so last week and got through that without any health concerns so that was another good milestone that my health is getting back to normal.
Since my last post was about Athena, I guess I would be remiss if I didn't give you an update. She's growing like a weed and has received another nickname - "3 pounds of Knives", or "Knives" for short. This is a subtle reference to the character Knives Chau from "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World". If you haven't seen that movie you have questionable tastes in cinema, but that's a topic for another post. So, the "Knives" reference is because our dear cat now weighs about 3 1/2 lbs and at times seems to be made completely of knives. Like when she jumps on you in bed at 5:30 in the morning with claws and teeth out to let you know she's ready for a little play time. Cute. Anyway, here she is, inviting herself to the dinner table:
The last fun thing to share is that Susan and I are working hard in preparation for the Copper Triangle bike tour in two weeks. About 80 miles and 6800 feet of climbing. It will definitely be a big accomplishment! We've been doing some practice rides in the mountains and Susan recently upgraded her bike and got a bike fitting that has made her A LOT more comfortable on the bike. I think it will be a long day but if everything goes as planned we'll complete the ride and it will be great fun - although maybe not completely fun doing the last big climb up Vail pass...
Well, that's enough for one post. I hope that all of you are doing well and I want to remind you that you promised me that you would get the appropriate physical exams to take care of yourself. I know that having things stuck into you isn't all that much fun (believe me, I know this) but if I can have 38 doses of chemo, a broken back, a blood clot in my arm, interstitial pneumonitis, a port, two PICC lines and a triple lumen catheter injected into my old hide, the least you can do is to get your (breast, ass, genitalia) inspected to keep yourself healthy. Early detection is the key to beating many of these nasty diseases so don't let me down on this, ok?